O come on!

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The candles on the advent wreath are lit in anticipation of the coming of Christ.

“O come on!”   Have you ever said that in frustration? Can’t get that thread into the needle? “O come on!”…. Can’t get your relative who is politically the opposite of you to agree with you?  “O come on!”   Can’t get just a little cooperation from the family as you prepare for the holidays? “O come on!”

Well there’s a hymn Christians sing at this time of the year called “O come O come Emmanuel.” It’s filled with powerful images and different beautiful names for the messiah. It’s filled with longing for God to come into our lives. It’s a way we say to God, “O come on!”

Each year the church reminds people that the season of Advent is not at first primarily about Jesus coming as a baby 2000 years ago. We don’t wait for him to come the way we wait for Santa to come. Santa’s coming is predictable. We know what he will say (three ho’s), what he’ll wear (red suit), where his finger will be (side of his nose), etc. No, the season of Advent is about Jesus coming into the world again.

And Jesus’s second coming will bring us to heaven at the end of the world. Well that’s been a little less predictable. Indeed Jesus tells his followers that they’d better stay alert because they won’t know the hour or the day that the Lord is coming. But he IS coming.

So I want to say to Jesus, “O come on!”   I’m ready for heaven now. Won’t have to raise the final $213,200 for Saint Bernard’s building renovation campaign…won’t have to erase poverty…won’t have to find the cure for diseases….won’t have to keep wondering if people will find good jobs. “Come already! won’t you, Lord? What are you waiting for?”

Then I think, maybe he’s waiting for us to have fed the last hungry person, healed the last sick person, to have helped the last person struggling with addiction, etc.. Maybe he doesn’t want to catch us unprepared and unfinished with the work he left us.   That would be pretty embarrassing, no?

Maybe Jesus is really anxious to come again and wants us to hurry up to do all the good things he wants us to get done. Maybe he’s saying to us, “O come on!” Maybe that song’s about us?

From the looks of it, most of our neighborhoods are already lit with Christmas lights even though Christmas is still two weeks away. (And I do hope people will leave their lights on during the 12 days of Christmas which start the night of the 24th of December.) Yet if we really want to celebrate what Christmas means, we ought to find ways to brighten the lives of those still living in darkness. Toys for Tots is a good start but is almost too easy. When we consider our own family members who struggle with abuse, alzheimers, depression, addiction, or other illnesses, walking into their darkness to bring light is much more challenging. Yet 2000 years ago God did not hesitate to come into the darkness of a dank stable in order to save people.

Come on! Let’s follow suit.

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Pastor of St. Bernard's since 2013 and known for his engaging homilies and community presence, Father Ralph Sommer is also a treasured columnist for the Levittown Tribune.

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